Why Padma Lakshmi Was So Hard on Fatima Ali on Top Chef

Upon watching shows like Top Chef you can’t help but feel for the competitors sometimes since the chefs do tend to get a little hard-nosed in their critiques and seem to be kind of mean in a way at times when it comes to telling people just what they think. But unlike many others Padma Lakshmi’s constant need to point out what Fatima Ali was doing wrong wasn’t coming from any sense of wanting to drive the budding chef out. On the contrary it was because she knew what Fatima could do and was trying to inspire her to be the absolute best that she could be. In essence she was doing exactly what Fatima wanted her to do by being as hard as she could in order to bring out the spark that Fatima had exhibited when it came to her cooking.

Unfortunately the rising star succumbed to cancer just recently after it was believed that she was cancer-free as of last year. Her inspiring work and her dedication to her career has been hailed as absolutely magnificent, not to mention something that others have aspired to in their own way. But the issue up for debate here is whether or not people are able to work under the kind of pressure that it was assumed that Fatima was dealing with when it came Padma’s criticisms. On one hand it usually seems that those that are criticizing chefs on such shows as Top Chef are being just downright nasty and seem to want to get them to quit. But on the other hand if people would look closer even those like the famed Gordon Ramsey, who’s one of the biggest trash-talkers of them all, are attempting to inspire those they work with to be as great as they can possibly be.

It could be argued that this is a big part of what’s wrong with our country these days, or at least a symptom. People don’t like to be yelled at and talked down to, that’s obvious, but people that are coddled and told to that everything is okay when things are falling apart aren’t being done any favors either. Fatima admitted that she wanted Padma to be honest and upfront with her. This didn’t mean she wanted to be screamed at and have things thrown at her, but it did meant that she was ready for the criticism to come and was willing to learn from it. The one thing that anyone who is front of people and performing needs to learn is how to be criticized and how to use it to make them that much stronger and confident in what they do. Anyone in fact would learn well from this lesson since the act of criticism is not always a negative, but instead a positive waiting to happen, a means of showing a person what they can do better, or what they can achieve if they try something a different way. Criticism is not always negative, no matter how it’s perceived.

Fatima was a hard worker and a diligent chef and showed a great deal of promise in whatever she did. The support she was given by Padma throughout her time on the show was admirable, but in now way does it seem that the criticisms offered by Padma are to be taken as anything but what was needed to get Fatima to work even harder to make certain that her cooking was on point and up to the standards that both she and those around her could agree to.

In any field criticism is the essence of what makes us better. It is the feedback that people need in order to really grow when it comes to their work, their life, and anything they happen to enjoy or excel at. Too many individuals see criticism as nagging, bullying, or an otherwise negative reaction to their work and take offense. Too many of those that seem to feel the criticism breaks them down have either been coddled their entire lives or have never been forced to deal with the world the way it is, not the way they would have it. In this vein the world is becoming a rather entitled place as more and more people find it hard if not impossible to take criticisms that could possibly help them out and lead them towards a better and more fulfilling life. In order to get better at what you do it’s necessary to get knocked down a peg or two from time to time, or at least be reminded that there’s always something you could learn.

Fatima learned this lesson in her 29 years on this earth and she was all the better for it as she was one of the hardest workers in the kitchen and someone worth looking up to. Rest in peace Ms. Ali.


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